Saint Joseph man found unresponsive in the water died of natural causes

The 58-year-old died on his birthday.
Publish date:

A medical examiner has ruled that a man found unresponsive in the water of a popular northeast Minnesota lake died of natural causes. 

According to the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, 58-year-old Darrell Pfannenstein, of St. Joseph, Minnesota, died of natural causes Tuesday, July 2 after being found lying next to a jet ski on Lake Vermilion. 

A resident had seen Pfannenstein standing in the water next to his jet ski, attempting to get back on. The resident offered to help but Pfannenstein declined. 

A short time later he was seen walking in the water towards the shore, and the same resident decided to boat over and offer help again. As he approached, he found Pfannenstein face down and unresponsive in the water.

Pfannenstein, who was wearing a life jacket, was taken to shore where he was pronouncd dead after life-saving efforts were unsuccessful. 

A drowning was suspected as a possible cause of death, but the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office determined that he died of natural causes. 

According to his obituary, Pfannenstein died on his birthday. He was born July 2, 1961 in St. Joseph. 

"Darrell enjoyed spending time scuba diving, hunting, jet skiing, snowmobiling, autobody work on cars. He especially loved the time spent with his family and friends," his obituary says. 

Next Up

covid-19, coronavirus

CDC says COVID-19 quarantine period can be cut to 10 or 7 days

You can come out of a 7-day quarantine following exposure provided you've had a negative test.

maple grove fire

1 person found dead inside Maple Grove business that burned down

A person had been unaccounted following the fire that destroyed Hanson Implement and Storage Tuesday night.

One-dollar bill, cash, money

Appeals court rules MN high school students can get unemployment benefits

They've been denied the benefits, and some were even asked to pay them back.

covid-19, coronavirus

Dec. 2 COVID-19 update: 77 more deaths in Minnesota

The death toll is closing in on 3,700 in Minnesota.

City Pages

Fan creates City Pages archive, Star Tribune tells him to remove it

After word spread that the defunct newspaper's website would go down, a fan created his own copy. Then he got a cease and desist letter.

Adam Thielen

Vikings activate Adam Thielen off COVID-19/reserve list

The star receiver missed last week's victory over Carolina.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.27.14 AM

Naked man shot by St. Paul cop is charged for sexual assault of ex-girlfriend

The 31-year-old suspect remains at Regions Hospital after being shot.

Lindsay Whalen

Whalen's Gophers start season with only 7 players available

Whalen isn't happy that a transfer wasn't granted immediate eligibility to play.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 9.21.08 AM

Baby steals the show in Minnesota family's viral TikTok video

Definitely busting out that wobbly baby move at the next party...

George Floyd protest

Activist groups release 'The People's Budget,' call for $53M Minneapolis police cuts

The People's Budget, spearheaded by Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block, would cut more than $53 million from MPD's budget.


Lake Vermilion

Man dies at the scene of water emergency on Lake Vermilion

Circumstances leading up to the man's death aren't yet known.

Screen Shot 2020-06-12 at 9.03.03 AM

Body found floating in the water at lake in Chisholm

The 61-year-old has not been identified.

lake water

Person dies after being found unresponsive in west-central MN lake

The lake is located on the northern edge of Willmar.


Man found dead in south-central Minnesota cornfield

The 33-year-old was found in his vehicle.

Police: Missing Stillwater man found in Roseville died of suicide

The 24-year-old's body was found in Roseville on Friday.

Donald McElderry

Man's death after incident at Grand Casino ruled a homicide

The 58-year-old died from blunt-force head trauma.